Earlier this year, I created an image titled “Emotions.” To me, it was about using symbolism to depict how our emotions come to the surface and out of us. In it I had two figures connecting and through the use of color I wanted to symbolize the raw power of two different emotions that could occur when people connect. The human touch is a powerful thing and can ignite any plethora of things. I wanted the colors to embody a duality of emotions such as people can often feel. Both colors powerful yet neither overtaking the other.
In this triptych, I wanted to further explore that same concept with three new emotions: Love, Angst and Nervousness/Anxiousness (that feeling of “butterflies” in our stomach). The result from the original piece “Emotions” really fascinated me so I wanted to use the same bellowing smoke.
I decided to create a triptych more as a challenge to myself. I’ve created two images in a series but not three. Usually, my pieces are quite standalone but a mentor advised me to explore creating more images that would go together in a series. I felt that a series on emotions would be perfect. The emotions I selected ranged from positive (love) to negative (angst). The image “Butterflies” could go either way (it could symbolize that excited anxiousness we feel when we are about to try something new or that anxiousness we feel when we are awaiting bad news).
In order to tie these three images to my original piece, I wanted to keep the background colors somewhat similar – so I had to keep in mind that neutral pallet moving forward. When conceptualizing these three works, I was drawn to create images that looked more like portraits taken in a studio. Sometimes, as photographers, we have no idea what our clients or subjects are thinking but inside they may very well be feeling any one of these three emotions.
Why figures with smoke coming out of their heads?
Well, when I think of emotions I think of steam that needs to be let out or the pressure will build so much in the object that contains it that it will then explode. Emotions feel the same way to me. We can bottle them for so long but they then seem to come to a point of explosion. It may not necessarily be an outwards burst of words but it could even be manifested through our actions. If we learn how to give them a way out (like steam in a pressure cooker) then we can help to avoid the sudden rush for them to come out all at once.